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New mammography machine to serve the women of Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Donnette Hyman (left), head of the mammogram department/radiographer, explains how the mammography unit works to Dr Fenton Ferguson, minister of health; Yulit Gordon (second right), executive director of the Jamaica Cancer Society; and Earl Jarrett, chairman, Jamaica Cancer Society, at the head office in St Andrew on Wednesday.-Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

Last week, Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson dedicated the Jamaica Cancer Society's new mammography unit at its head office in St Andrew.

After two years of seeking assistance from the public and corporate Jamaica for assistance to acquire a new mammography machine, Yulit Gordon, executive director of the Society, launched the 'Tree of Hope' campaign, which led to the kick off of the Mammography Unit Fund.

Thanks to donations from the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, several individuals and corporate entities, along with a number of fundraising initiatives, the Society was successful in acquiring the new mammography unit to the tune of $16 million.

"This new machine was designed to meet international safety standards and quality assurance," shared Gordon. "This new technology will minimise the need for our customers to retake mammograms which often times result in poor positioning errors or motion blurring. Images can now be enhanced after they have been taken. These images, when viewed on a high-resolution five-mega pixel monitor, will allow for more accurate diagnosis, and a faster turnaround time for our customers to get their results."

screening population

Breast cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women. The screening population currently stands at over 400,000 women between the age of 40 and 75 years. It is predicted that one out of every 21 women in Jamaica will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer poses a major public-health issue, as the costs associated with treatment are significant and has led many families into bankruptcy.

Mammograms remain the gold standard for detecting abnormalities within the breasts. Breast cancer, if detected in its early stage of development, can be successfully treated, thus improving the chances of survival for cancer patients.

The Jamaica Cancer Society continues to preach the message that early detection is the key to saving lives. In 2013, the Society screened 8,500 women, and is hoping to increase this number to 10,000 women in 2014 with the implementation of its new machine.

Lack of sleep may raise risk of false memories

Sleep deprivation may contribute to false memories, where you recall events that never happened, according to a new study.

Scientists from the University of California-Irvine and Michigan State University in the United States recruited 104 college-aged participants and divided them into four groups. All groups were given a test in which they saw a series of photos depicting a crime taking place. Two of the groups took the test late at night, one of which was allowed to sleep, while the other was required to stay awake throughout the night. The other two groups took the test in the morning. The same sleep rules applied for them.

The participants were then asked to read eyewitness statements about the crime scene depicted in the photos. Some of the eyewitness statements matched what was actually shown in the photos, while others did not. After reading the statements, the participants were asked whether they recalled what was shown in the photos.

The results of the study showed that people in the groups who were not allowed to sleep were more likely to recall the events shown in the photos not as what they actually saw, but as what they had read in false eyewitness narratives.

The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggest that lack of sleep may contribute to false memory formation. Researchers noted that further research is needed, however, before such findings could be applied to law enforcement.

Improvement work to be undertaken at Central Village Health Centre

Improvement work is to be undertaken at the Central Village Health Centre in St Catherine. This follows a visit to the facility recently by Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Health Care Infrastructure, Luther Buchanan, with a view to determining what improvements can be carried out.

Among the needs highlighted by staff, include a security fence and an additional room for patient care.

The State Minister said the Health Ministry is not in a position to give a cost to undertake the necessary work needed at the facility.

"The project will have to be scoped, and that will determine where we are with the cost, but for sure, it will be attended to," Buchanan said.

"Even though it's a type-one facility, by virtue of the population, one of the options to improvement, outside of the aesthetics, is to bring a doctor in for visiting...at least once per month," the state minister added.

Mayor of Spanish Town Norman Scott said there was need for a doctor at the facility.

"This clinic serves Windsor Heights, Central Village, Glade, Caymanas Bay, and Caymanas Estate. In total, that could be in excess of about 30,000 residents that are served by this clinic," Scott said, adding that currently, about 400 patients are treated at the centre per month.

More than $620 million has been spent since 2012 to improve the primary healthcare infrastructure across the island.

Startup's chips mimic body's reaction to drugs

A company being launched out of a Harvard University research institute in the United States will transform slivers of silicon into testing devices that simulate human organs to help speed the development of new drugs.

The silicon chips, about the size of a computer thumb drive, are designed to hold human cells and blood to allow scientists to test whether a drug is effective, for example, or whether an industrial chemical or a food additive is harmful to people.

These highly sophisticated systems are called organ-on-a-chip, and the new company, Emulate, hopes its commercial product will be used by university and research labs around the world.

"We can get a much greater insight into human biology with that; it's going to be very exciting," said chief executive James Coon.